Life Coaching Tip: Having a “word” to serve as your North Star for the year will help direct your decisions and guide your steps. If you haven’t picked your “word” yet, I encourage you to do so, even if you’re reading this in July! Your word will provide you with clarity and focus to stay the course as you move forward in the direction of your dreams.
At the start of each year, I define my goals for the year, and I choose a word to sum up my intentions and guide me. This year, my decision was easy, because the universe seemed to plop my word in my lap in the late fall.
On one particular day, I was bombarded with hearts . . . to the extreme that coincidence was easily ruled out and synchronicity was apparent!
It started early that morning with a heartfelt text message of gratitude from my sister-in-law, seemingly out of the blue, laden with a stream of her signature purple hearts.
Later that morning, a card arrived from a former client, with a big, beautiful heart on the front.
In the afternoon, a gift from my life coach was delivered to my doorstep . . . a pink, heart-shaped, rose quartz to promote love, peace, and serenity.
And finally, it took me a minute to realize this one, but when I did—my mind was blown! In the evening, I received a text message late in the day from a former client whom I hadn’t heard from in years, offering me complimentary tickets to see Ann Wilson in concert.
Are you wondering how Ann Wilson fits in? Well, she’s the main singer in the band, HEART!
This is how the word “heart” came into my awareness over the past few months and made it an obvious top contender for my “word of year.”
The decision was then solidified during my last session with my coach, when I made the commitment to release ALL that is no longer serving me in my coaching practice. I’ve decided to let go of anything that feels burdensome, unpleasant, or resistant, and fully embrace the many aspects of my business that bring me joy and fulfillment.
Yes, I’ve decided this year to passionately “lead with my HEART”!
And now that I’ve given you this background information, here is where this story begins . . . .
I’ve made it a new practice this year to spend time during my morning walks reflecting on all that I love. If you have never intentionally done this, I highly recommend it—as a way to nourish your mind, body, and soul—and create the kind of grateful, positive energy that will attract more of the same back to you.
And so, this is what I was doing one morning as my pup, Ginger, and I were sloshing along the wet trails of the Lake Erie Bluffs after a rain spell. I was thinking about my vow to lead with my heart, sending love out to the world, and feeling a sense of peace and gratitude as a result.
A bit into our walk, Ginger and I ran into a friend, Thom, whom we’ve gotten to know over the past year—someone whom we see almost daily, as Thom and his dog, Arlo, are dedicated walkers, no matter the weather, just like us.
Thom and I often joke that we should have more rights to the park, since most of the other park guests are “fair-weather friends.”
Our conversations are always light and friendly, but short, as one would be with an acquaintance passing by at the park.
On this day, I asked Thom where he had been the day before, which was a morning that Ginger and I were caught in a torrential downpour that left us both soaked. Thom told me that he had been with his family—his wife, daughter, and grandchildren—at Disney World, and they had just returned the night before.
“Oh, that’s awesome! How was it?” I asked.
Thom told me that although they had a great time, he was involved in an altercation with another Disney guest who punched him in the chest!
As it turns out, Thom accidently bumped into the man’s young daughter in a crowded area and the man assaulted him in a flash. Thom said he had a huge black-and-blue mark on his chest as a result.
This made my blood boil!
“I hope you reported him to security and had him arrested!” I said.
Thom told me that a Disney employee had witnessed the whole thing and intervened immediately. Although they wanted to throw the man out of the park, Thom didn’t have the heart to let that happen.
Instead, he asked for permission to talk to the child and apologize, explaining that he would never push her intentionally. He also warned the man that if he didn’t get control of his anger, the consequences the next time would likely be dire.
Thom knew if he allowed security to evict this man from the park, it would further ruin the child’s experience—and he didn’t want that to happen.
Oh, how Thom’s compassion spoke to my heart!
“You’re such a good person, Thom. I hope to learn from your example,” I said. “The Italian mama inside of me wanted to head to Disney and punch that guy out myself when I first heard your story. Gosh, you’re amazing!”
“Well, I’ve gone through a lot in my life, and I’ve learned,” he said. “I had a brother who was mentally ill, and I learned many lessons in compassion and patience as a result.”
That’s when it clicked.
“Thom, what was your brother’s name?” I asked.
He looked at me with a bit of confusion, clearly wondering why I was asking.
“John,” he answered.
“Thom, it’s me! It’s Tracy! Do you remember me? I was John’s mental health case worker back in the day!” I shouted.
Tears streamed down Thom’s face before he even answered. “Tracy! Yes, of course, Tracy!”
Soon we were both crying, laughing, hugging, and squealing in amazement!
We’d passed by one another so many times over the course of the year, casually chit-chatting and learning miscellaneous facts about each other-like both of our spouses are Lithuanian, but never had we realized our connection!
And then came the reminiscing . . . .
I was Thom’s brother’s case manager about 15 years ago, and I adored both of these men. Like many people living with schizophrenia, John suffered from delusional thoughts and voices that often made him fearful and paranoid. But he also had delusions of grandeur, and he delighted in telling me tales of his wealth and fame-often generously offering to buy his favorite case worker a castle or two.
John was a kind, gentle soul who loved cactus plants, animals, and rock-and-roll music. Also, he had an eye for fashion.
But caring for John was challenging, so when I was first assigned to work with him, I reached out to his brother, who was his guardian at the time, to team up and offer my support. Thom said I was the first mental health provider in all the years to make such an offer, and he gladly accepted my assistance.
Truly, the pleasure was all mine, as the bond between these two brothers was beyond inspirational—and John’s shenanigans often required a team effort and a decent sense-of-humor to manage.
Sadly, John passed away in 2010.
I wholeheartedly believe it was John’s spirit that reconnected us that morning. Thom said he was just having breakfast with another of his brothers earlier in the day—sharing memories about John.
I sure hope the warm hug Thom and I shared after our realization helped to heal the black-and- blue bruise on his chest from Disney, because it certainly impacted my heart in a powerful way.
These reminders in life that we’re not alone in all of this fill me with the kind of wonder, joy, and love that gives me goosebumps.
And that’s why I’m sharing it with you today, my friend. I hope you can feel it too!
Have you chosen your 2023 Word of the Year yet?
If not, I encourage you to do this because your word can help bring clarity and focus into your new year. It can serve as your North Star to direct your decisions and guide your steps, so you can live more intentionally.
As you’ve probably heard me say before, we believe what we tell ourselves. I mean, your subconscious mind is taking notes 24/7.
And since your thoughts create your outcomes, it just makes sense to choose a Word of the Year that will steer your thoughts in the direction of your dreams.
You can then refer to your word for guidance and inspiration when you’re making decisions in the months to come or when you need to choose your next step forward.
How to choose your Word of the Year:
There’s no way to get this wrong, and so if a word just pops into your head that feels right to you, go with it!
However, if nothing comes to you immediately, here are some steps you can take to get started . . . .
1. Reflect on your 2022. Briefly list what went well for you and what you would like to change.
2. Review your lists, and ask yourself these questions . . . .
- What do I want more (or less) of in my life?
- What positive attributes would I like to have?
- How do I want to feel?
- What word represents my goals, dreams, and desires?
3. Choose one to five words that really speak to you. Nouns, verbs, anything works—just words that feel good to you.
4. Walk away for a while and ponder. As you consider your possibilities, take some time to quiet your mind and listen to your inner voice. It will never betray you.
5. Finally, once you choose your word, commit to it completely! (There’s a huge difference between, “As if, but it would be nice” and “I’ve decided, and it’s happening!”)
Write your Word of the Year on Post-It notes and put them all over your home, office, and car. Look for evidence of your word showing up and open the door when it comes knocking!
And please, once you’ve chosen your word, send me a message and let me know what it is, your reason for choosing it, and how you plan on making it work for you in 2023.
I’d love to hear what you’re planning to create for yourself in the new year!